OSCAR: I AM PRO PUNTA CANA!
In BOP faces we talk to local legends: the people of Punta Cana that make this place so special. In this edition: Oscar, who has been living in Punta Cana for 22 years. With his radio show Hola Punta Cana he promotes the town. By organizing events like Punta Cana beer fest, pork fest and burger fest, he gives back to the place in his own special way. But who is this Oscar really? BOP wanted to find out.
“No, no, no! You can pass. Just go straight! Yes, like that!” Oscar Cerda G. (41) is giving a truck with iron scaffolds on top of it instructions on how to enter the empty parking space in Down Town Punta Cana. His phone rings. “Are you there already? Hold on I am going to call for you.” He dials another number on his phone and speaks vividly with the person on the other end. As soon as he hangs up his phone rings again. “Sorry it is such a hectic morning,” Oscar says apologetically.
And hectic it is. On the big empty parking lot with only a construction of a bar in the middle, the Punta Cana beer fest is going to take place the next day. A lot of preparation is still needed to make the plot fest worthy. “I organize the Punta Cana Beer fest, Punta Cana Burger Fest, Punta Cana pork fest and wine fest,” Oscar says proudly. “But my core business is aviation.”
Working his way up
Oscar is a busy man, organizing events, doing his weekly radio show Hola Punta Cana, and managing his aviation company in which he provides tours and private plane rentals. When he came to Punta Cana in 1999 he had a lot less going on. At his first job in Punta Cana he worked at the reception of a hotel. “I did not like that job,” Oscar explains. “But I met a man who owned a helicopter tour company in Punta Cana. We connected instantly, so I started working for him washing and cleaning helicopters.”
Oscar’s entrepreneurial spirit started in Santiago de Los Caballeros where he was born. His dad, a man who believed in having a good education, pushed Oscar to get his degree in Business Administration first. “He literally told me. ‘Give me your diploma and then you can do what you want to do.’ When I got my degree, I was free to study aviation. I took a course and classes. I also lived in Belgium for a year and worked as an Au Pair!” Oscar laughs. “I cared for 2 small kids. Because I wanted to save more money for aviation classes, I moved to the United States to live with my aunt. Every morning I got up at 4 AM to hand out news papers in 4 buildings. At 6:30 my shift at a bicycle assembly factory started. When I finished there, I went to my other job as a dishwasher in a restaurant at 4 PM.”
Back to Punta Cana
When he returned to the Dominican Republic and obtained his degree as a private plane pilot, Oscar felt Santiago was too small for him. He decided to move to Punta Cana. At the helicopter company, he worked himself up from cleaning the choppers, to learning how to fly one. When he left Punta Cana for the United States in 2002 to follow another aviation course, he ended up in a bureaucracy of paperwork, that did not allow him to take any classes. Broke and disappointed he returned to Santiago. There it was that he met his wife and they moved back to Punta Cana together. First, he worked as a broker for private planes, only to start his own company Aeropunto a few years later.
Giving back to Punta Cana
“Every city can grow if its foundation is based on strong values. I saw people coming into Punta Cana with bad intentions. That is why I wanted to create a platform where the people with good intentions in Punta Cana could be promoted. People who also want to give back to Punta Cana, not only take from it. That is why I started my radio show Hola Punta Cana 6 years ago. The show is about food, gastronomy and golf. It is because I love golf and I love eating. Look at me!” a laughing Oscar says. It also to give a voice to passionate people and their businesses here. I do not go into politics or other matters, I want to keep my show positive. I am pro Punta Cana! On the show I do interviews and I also taste food. I know almost all the restaurant owners in the area. One moment.” Oscar’s phone rings again.
“3 years ago, I had a live radio show with the 10 best burgers in Punta Cana. I did it outside. After that, a guy overheard me talking about it on the phone and approached me and asked if I wanted to do events. He said that he could help me with it. That is when I did my first Punta Cana Burger fest a year ago. People are always willing to sponsor me or participate in the events because they know I have high standards when I do something. I never do things halfway. For me it is not about the money, but it is about giving back to Punta Cana. Of course, there is something left for me in the end, but the main thing is helping Punta Cana grow in a positive way. Now I am doing all the events by myself. Later this year there will be a pork and a wine fest.”
“Punta Cana has everything! But my favorite spot is 30 to 45 minutes away from here (Down Town Punta Cana). I know it is funny! I love Punta Cana, but I also love the country side. I go to a place next to Uvero Alto. There are beautiful country houses there. In the future I want to build some houses there too…hold on.” A man walks up to Oscar. He is a beer maker who is going to be on the festival. They talk about the festival. “Be there at 12 in the afternoon tomorrow.” Oscar turns around and explains that he is an artisan. As he wants to continue talking his phone rings again….
The preparations for the Punta Cana Beer fest are under way!
The Punta Cana Beer Fest takes place on the 30th of June and the 1st of July at 4 PM. To follow Oscar’s show, events and company follow puntacanafoodiesfest, holapuntacana, puntacanaflighttours, on Instagram.
Keep on reading about other people living in Punta Cana on BOP faces. Harolis who helps communities in Punta Cana, or artist Tiano Solana who uses his wife as muse in all his paintings, or Juan Bautista who was born in Bavaro when it was still a jungle.